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A Path to the Door

The heads of the US National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine are considering policy changes that could allow them to remove members who have committed sexual harassment, Science reports. It notes that members of the academy are appointed for lifetime terms and that, currently, there are no means through which someone could be removed.

The presidents of the academies issued a statement last week saying that they'd be beginning a "dialogue" on professional standards for membership. "We want to be sure that we are doing everything possible to prevent sexual harassment, to instill a culture of inclusion and respect, and to reinforce that harassment is not tolerated," the statement from National Academy of Sciences' Marcia McNutt, National Academy of Engineering's CD Mote, and the National Academy of Medicine's Victor Dzau said.

Science adds that while researchers are encouraged by the steps the academies are taking, they are also concerned about their slow pace and whether their discussions will lead to any meaningful changes.

It notes that this move comes on the heels of Inder Verma resigning as the editor-in-chief of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences after allegations of sexual harassment were made against him and of an online petition circulating calling for Verma to be removed from NAS. The Salk Institute, where Verma is based, is still investigating the claims, Science notes.